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Third quarter staple shipments drop 8%.

After two very strong opening quarters, shipments of polyester, olefin and rayon staple to nonwoven fabric producers dropped to 135 million pounds in the third quarter for a decline of 12 million pounds (8%) from the immediately preceding quarter. Compared with the figure for the corresponding period of 1988, the latest figure represented an increase of four million pounds (3%).

For the first three quarters of 1989, shipments of the three fibers totaled 424 million pounds, 3% above the corresponding quarters of 1988. However, a year ago at this stage the shipments of 411 million pounds represented an increase of 6% through the first nine months of 1987. In short, business isn't bad-it just isn't growing as fast as it was a while ago.

Despite the weak third quarter, it seems likely that 1989 will set a new high for staple shipments to the nonwovens trade for the fifth consecutive year. But it won't be much of an improvement-somewhere in the order of 560 million pounds for 1989 seems a reasonable estimate. Such a figure would be only 13 million pounds (2%) above 1988. By contrast, 1988 shipments were 4% above 1987 which, in turn, was no less than 13% ahead of 1986.

The 560 million pounds estimated for total shipments in 1989 consist of 275 million pounds of PET (up 13%), 185 million pounds of olefin (up 2%) and 100 million pounds of rayon (down 18%). Looking at the individual fibers, PET continues to lead the field with a market share of 49% in the third quarter and also in the year-to-date figures. So far, 206 million pounds of PET have been shipped, compared with 175 million in January-September 1988, an increase of 18%.

Olefin staple sales in the third quarter were identical with the second quarter figure-47 million pounds. For the year-to-date, olefin sales are running just barely 1%) above the figure a year ago. Olefin's share of market in the latest quarter was 35%, compared with 32% in the second quarter. For the nine months, olefin shipments have represented 33% of the total; a year ago they were 34%.

Rayon staple continues to decline both in pounds and in market share. The most recent period saw sales drop to 22 million pounds from 28 million in the preceding quarter and 27 million in the third quarter of 1988. For the year to date, rayon staple sales have totaled 78 million pounds, down by 20 million pounds (20%) from the 98 million pounds shipped in the first nine months of 1988. Rayon's share declined to 16% in the third quarter. For the year-to-date, it registered an 18% share versus a 24% share in the corresponding 1988 period.

The sharp drop in rayon shipments in the first nine months of the year probably reflects temporary shortages of capacity stemming from the troubles at the Avtex Fibers staple plant, which culminated in the facility being shut down completely. With business in rayon broad woven goods still holding up pretty well (despite a third quarter drop), it could easily be that the two surviving suppliers of rayon staple (Courtaulds and BASF) were unable to bridge the gap opened up by the withdrawal of Avtex's capacity from the market.

(Tables and other figures omitted)
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Title Annotation:Fibers Quarter; nonwoven fabrics
Author:Harrison, David
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Article Type:column
Date:Mar 1, 1990
Previous Article:Customs Service changes Sontara duty treatment.
Next Article:U.S. nonwovens in Europe.

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